The Core Idea: 5 Books That Changed My Life

The best books have at least one thing you take away that changes how you approach life. Here are 5 of my favourites.

Reading List

Stoic books, articles etc

The Enchiridion - Part 53

Epictetus leaves us with some quotes that he likes

The Enchiridion - Part 52

In the second last part, Epictetus talks about the usefulness of philosphy itself

The Enchiridion - Part 51

If I had a favourite motivational phrase, it would come from this part

The Enchiridion - Part 50

Never wave from what you have decided is right

The Enchiridion - Part 49

Value comes in the application of ideas, not in their understanding

The Enchiridion - Part 48

Sights on the path from lay person to Stoic

The Enchiridion - Part 47

Don't brag about how humble you are.

The Enchiridion - Part 46

The first rule of Stoicism: don't vomit up Stoicism

The Enchiridion - Part 45

The only actions we can truly understand are our own

The Enchiridion - Part 44

Fight Club Stoicism

The Enchiridion - Part 43

We can choose how we approach and issue; we should chose a way that allows us to maintain our Stoic mindset.

The Enchiridion - Part 42

People act according to their own judgements; and if they are wrong, it is no business of ours

The Enchiridion - Part 41

The body should be tended to, but the mind should be where our focus lays.

The Enchiridion - Part 40

What sort of women should you desire?

Failing at Stoicism

What do you do when you fall off the Stoic bandwagon? With its focus on things which are completely in our control, failing at Stoicism leaves nowhere to hide - every failure is completely on your own head.

The Enchiridion - Part 39

We should limit our desires to our physical necessities

The Enchiridion - Part 38

Our mental state is at least as important to us as our body, so we should afford it the same level of care.

The Enchiridion - Part 37

You have a duty to do good in the world; don't screw it up by over-reaching.

The Enchiridion - Part 36

Take into consideration both your own needs and the effect that satisfying them has on others.

The Enchiridion - Part 35

I mentioned this quote on a forum a little while back, and was suprised by the response, though in hindsight it makes sense.

The Enchiridion - Part 34

As with a lot of Stoicism, the basis of this peice of advice is to eek out some space between action and reaction.

The Enchiridion - Part 33

This part is chock full of small peices of related advice on how to practically approach daily Stoicism.

The Enchiridion - Part 32

Here we have another dense, religion-focused peice. To be honest I'm having difficulty wrapping my head around it.

The Enchiridion - Part 31

To honour your gods, you must focus solely on that which is in your control

Unusual Attachment

Finding enlightenment in a pile of ceramic shards

The Enchiridion - Part 30

Discovering your appropriate duties by looking at your relationships

The Enchiridion - Part 29

This is a long one, but a good one.

The Enchiridion - Part 28

A recurring theme in The Enchiridion, and Seneca's work too, is that we too easily give others influence over us. We should take as much care of our minds as we do our bodies.

The Enchiridion - Part 27

Is this a riddle?

The Enchiridion - Part 26

Some advice on how to bring perspective to loss and grief

The Enchiridion - Part 25

Everything comes at a cost. If you don't pay that cost, you can't expect to recieve the thing.

The Enchiridion - Part 24

This is a long, back and forth argument with a presumably imaginary opponent, about how persuing Stoicism fits in with civic and social duties.

The Enchiridion - Part 23

More of the standard Stoic advice

The Enchiridion - Part 22

Here we see a practical warning about the persuit of philosophy.

The Enchiridion - Part 21

This is possibly the single most useful bit of practical Stoic advice I've come across.

The Enchiridion - Part 20

Here we cover similar ground to part 5's Men are disturbed not by the things which happen, but by the opinions about the things

The Enchiridion - Part 19

When I first read this I wasn't all that impressed. It seems circuitous and unhelpful.

The Enchiridion - Part 18

Part 18 covers much the same ground as part 10. I add in some examples too

The Enchiridion - Part 17

This part is a concession to fate, and a reiteration of the dichotomy of control.

The Enchiridion - Part 16

I remember being offended by this the first time I read it. It seemed to be advising dishonesty and trickery.

The Enchiridion - Aside

A brief explanaiton of the week since I last wrote

The Enchiridion - Part 15

This part has both my most and least favourite sections of Epictetus' writing.

The Enchiridion - Part 14

Standard Stoic fare here, with some confonting examples.

The Enchiridion - Part 13

Epictetus gives us a warning about some things to watch out for

The Enchiridion - Part 12

This one gets a bit convoluted, but it also has two of my favourite lines.

The Enchiridion - Part 11

The Stoic beleif in God and fate shines through here, but there's still a lot to be taken from it.

The Enchiridion - Part 10

Some practical advice on how to implement the ideas in parts 8 and 9

The Enchiridion - Part 9

Once again we have an example of the dichotomy of control, with a practical twist.

The Enchiridion - Part 8

Wish the things which happen to be as they are

The Enchiridion - Part 7

More warnings about attachment, and a phrase I can't work out

The Enchiridion - Part 6

Part 6 is a warning against taking pride in your posessions

The Enchiridion - Part 5

When something bad happens to us, what is it that actually causes the harm?

The Enchiridion - Part 4

Be prepared. It'll help you keep your sanity.

The Enchiridion - Part 3

Now things start to get challenging

The Enchiridion - Part 2

Expanding on part 1, Epictetus goes into some detail about why desiring things not in your control is a bad idea.

The Enchiridion - Part 1

Epictetus doesn't mess around: the opening paragraph of part 1 of the Enchiridion sets the stage for all Stoic philosophy

Dissecting Epictetus

Examining the major writings of my favourite Roman Stoic

Misconceptions about Stoicism

Stoicism is a somewhat familiar idea to most people. It's usually characterized as a from of emotional dishonesty, where you put on a brave face, or further to the extreme, deny yourself the ability to feel. My parents were very much of the former school of thought, which may be why Stoicism sits fairly comfortably with me.


I started This Coding Life as a way to think about living a better life. Without knowing it, I was building a loose philosophy. But around a year ago I started reading about Stoicism and it clicked with me, moreso than my own writing ever had.

Contain What You Can't Eliminate

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Happy Patterns

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Failing Gracefully

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Feature Bloat

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The 4 C's of Elegance

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Welcome to This Coding Life

As a professional developer I know a fair amount about creating good software. But as a relatively new dad (and at 30, a relatively new grown-up) I'm still leaning an aweful lot about creating a good life.

This Coding Life will contain a series of articles focused on taking the principles and strategies I use in my career and applying them to my every day life. My experience so far is that applying professional rigour to my personal life helps make it more elegant, useful and enjoyable. Hopefully, that will continue...